Geoff Stoneback earns win in inaugural Formula DRIFT PRO 2 race at Homestead-Miami

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In the first race of the new Formula DRIFT PRO 2 intermediate series, Geoff Stoneback earned the victory at Homestead-Miami Speedway in his Nissan S14.

Stoneback held off a strong challenge in the finals by runnerup Nate Hamilton in a Nissan 240 SX to not only take the checkered flag, but also assumed the top spot in the Pro 2 standings.

Finishing third was Carl Rydquist in a Nissan 350Z.

It was a long day running both in the Pro Championship and PRO 2,” Stoneback said. “It was definitely great to run in PRO 2 as it bridges the gap between the Pro Championship and PRO 2. We are happy to be on the podium and the team did great.”

The PRO 2 series was introduced to serve as an intermediary league for drivers, particularly those who have previously competed in the Pro-Am series, to eventually climb to the higher level Formula Drift Pro Championship series.

“PRO 2 proved to be successful in delivering quality competition for the Friday fans,” said Jim Liaw, Formula DRIFT president. “The PRO 2 drivers are able to compete against each other while gaining valuable experience on the professional level.”

The 2014 Formula DRIFT PRO 2 season continues with Round 2 on July 18-19 at Evergreen Speedway in Monroe, Wash.

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PRO 2 Round 1 Event Results

Winner: Geoff Stoneback, GSR Nissan S14

2nd: Nate Hamilton, ONE44 Motorsports / Enkei Wheels Nissan 240SX

3rd: Carl Rydquist, Road Race Engineering / Berk Nissan 350Z

 

Formula DRIFT PRO 2 Standings After One Round

1. Geoff Stoneback, GSR Nissan S14, 107.50 points

2. Nate Hamilton, ONE44 Motorsports / Enkei Wheels Nissan 240SX, 84.50 points

3. Carl Rydquist, Road Race Engineering / Berk Nissan 350Z, 74.00 points

4. Jeremy Lowe, Enjuku Racing Mazda RX-7, 67.00 points

5. Dan Savage, Sikky Manufacturing Mazda RX-8, 52.50 points

6. Brad Heyl, Standard Automotive Apparel / Sikky Manufacturing Nissan 350Z, 52.50 points

7. Will Parsons, NonStop Tuning AutoComp Racing Toyota AE86, 52.50 points

8. Dave Briggs, Achilles Radial / Turbo by Garrett Nissan S14, 51.00 points

9. Rob Primozich, Garage Autohero Track Attack Nissan 240SX, 38.00 points

10. Matt Coffman, Matt Coffman Racing / PSI Nissan S13, 36.50 points

11. Tyler Wolfson, GT Radial SAE Motorsport Mazda RX-7, 35.00 Points

12. James Evans, Sikky Manufacturing Nissan 350Z, 35.00 points

13. Doug Van Den Brink, Denofa Motorsports BMW, 35.00 points

14. Andy Hateley, Hately Motorsports BMW E30 325i, 35.00 points

15. Ron Ewerth, Vision / Buddyclub / BRE Scion FR-S, 35.00 points

16. Tony Cisneros, 116 Motorsports Nissan 240SX, 35.00 points

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Hartley happy with ‘big progression’ on first day with Toro Rosso

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With 69 laps completed (28 in free practice one and 41 in free practice two) and respectable lap times in both sessions, Brendon Hartley quickly acclimated to a modern day Formula 1 chassis in his first run with Scuderia Toro Rosso in Friday practice for the United States Grand Prix.

The Porsche factory driver has been drafted into the team following a convoluted series of musical chairs that sees Daniil Kvyat back after a two-race absence, Carlos Sainz Jr. now at Renault and Pierre Gasly racing at the Super Formula season finale in Suzuka.

Over the time in the car today, Hartley experienced changeable conditions in FP1 before a more normal FP2, and discovered the new F1 cockpit after a day learning in the garage yesterday.

“A steep learning curve today! It all went pretty smoothly and I kept the car on track without making too many mistakes, so I’m quite happy,” the New Zealander reflected at day’s end.

“I didn’t really know what to expect from today because I just had so much to learn! I think I made quite a big progression throughout the day.

“The biggest difference from what I’m used to is the high-speed grip, it’s incredible here in Formula 1…it was quite an eye-opener! Another challenge are the tires, which are also quite different to what I’m used to. On the other hand, the long-run looks quite positive and I did a good job managing the tires there – the biggest thing I need to work on now is the new tire pace, and I’ll get another crack at it tomorrow morning before qualifying.

“All in all, I’d say it’s all coming together. We’ll now work hard and go through plenty of data tonight and hopefully I’ll make another step forward tomorrow.”

His best lap was 1.1 seconds up on Friday driver Sean Gelael, the Indonesian Formula 2 driver, in FP1 (1:39.267 to 1:40.406, good enough for 14th) and 1.1 seconds off the returning Kvyat in FP2 (1:37.987 to 1:36.761, good enough for 17th). Interestingly, the Gelael/Hartley combination in FP1 marked the second time in three races that Toro Rosso had a pair of drivers in its cars without a single Grand Prix start between them – Gasly’s debut at Malaysia was the other, when he and Gelael were in in FP1.

Coming into Friday’s running, Hartley said he was more ready for this opportunity now than he had been as a teenager. He admitted he’d called Red Bull’s Helmut Marko in the wake of Porsche’s LMP1 withdrawal news earlier this year to say he was game for any chance that might come.

“I’m a lot stronger than I was back then, basically. I wasn’t ready at 18 years old. I like to think I’m ready now,” he said.

“I haven’t driven a single-seater since 2012, but I like to think that Porsche LMP1 has hopefully prepared me well.”

As for the rest of his weekend, it’s been made more complicated by Hartley being assessed a 25-spot grid penalty, even though Hartley had done nothing to accrue the penalties.

The roundabout sequence of driver changes at Toro Rosso saw Gasly replace Kvyat, Kvyat replace Sainz, and now Hartley replace Gasly, as is outlined by NBCSN pit reporter Will Buxton below.